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 Blended Learning

New School of Education and Counseling Psychology certification brings more tech and personalized learning to Catholic classrooms

In a move designed to improve strategic outcomes at Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Jose, more than 100 teachers and administrators at seven area Catholic schools will participate in a year of professional development to receive a new Certificate in Blended Learning.

The yearlong program is being offered starting June 2013 through a new Academy of Blended Learning, a collaboration between the Diocese of San Jose and the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University. The academy is part of the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative, an ongoing project to revitalize Catholic education in the Diocese of San Jose.

Both the Drexel School Initiative and the academy are being funded by a generous grant from the Sobrato Family Foundation, as part of the foundation's commitment to leadership in "building a strong and vibrant Silicon Valley community." 

Blended Learning

“Blended learning” encompasses a set of tools and practices that aim to maximize the use of technology and advanced content to make students’ learning experience more flexible, personalized, and lasting. It has been shown through research and field experiences to be effective, efficient, and of greater relevance to students.

“I am very excited about the possibility that teachers, students, and parents will all have an opportunity to learn in the most promising ways we have available today,” said Kathy Almazol, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of San Jose. “This really brings us into the 21st century, while still holding on to everything we love about Catholic schools.”

The benefit of blended learning is to personalize the process so students learn what is important in the ways they can best learn, according to Steve Johnson, the director of the academy at Santa Clara University. It allows learners, and those who support their learning, to select from a very large set of content and tools, he said.

“Learning and teaching have changed in today's world of ‘anytime, anywhere’ learning,” said Johnson. “Blended learning brings together the best of what teachers, parents, and classrooms have to offer, with the best that technology and the entire world can offer.”

Educator Experience

During their year in the academy, teachers and administrators who work with kindergartners through eighth graders will engage in their own personalized, blended learning experience, choosing from a rich menu of intensive summer workshops, ongoing support, and activities available throughout the year. 

Because teachers in the participating schools have long blended face-to-face, digital, and community-based learning experiences, the academy will focus on more comprehensive and skillful use of technologies, particularly in reading and mathematics.

“We are very much looking forward to the opportunity of working together with teachers and administrators in the diocese,” said Nicholas Ladany, dean of the School of Education and Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University. “The Academy of Blended Learning is a wonderful expression of Santa Clara University’s own mission to develop excellent, ethical, and compassionate professionals for our schools.”

Also, the academy will further support the long-term aims of the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative by helping refine the blended-learning curriculum, assessment tools, and teaching methods for future academy training. 

“Learning programs for education professionals—such as this academy—transform participants’ views of technology from something they have to something they use every day to benefit their students’ learning, now and for their future,” said Pedro Hernández-Ramos, chair of the Department of Education at Santa Clara University.

More about the Saint Katharine Drexel School Initiative can be found at www.dsj.org

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